Tunisia denounces racism in Brazil game, but questions identity of culprit

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Brazil's Pedro celebrates scoring his goal against Tunisia as a laser is shone onto his faceBrazil's Pedro celebrates scoring his goal against Tunisia as a laser is shone onto his face

Tunisia's football federation (FTF) has denounced the racism that marred Tuesday's 5-1 defeat in Paris, where Brazil's Richarlison had a banana thrown at him.

While the FTF awaits confirmation that it was indeed a Tunisian who threw the banana, it has condemned the action and says it will apologise unreservedly.

"We strongly condemn any practice of racism that may occur in any stadium in the world," the FTF said in a statement.

"If the identity of the person who threw the banana is confirmed as being Tunisian, we apologise on behalf of him and on behalf of all Tunisians present at the stadium and who reaffirmed that the Tunisian fans are a phenomenon."

"We are surprised by ignoring the ideal behaviour of the overwhelming majority of the Tunisian fans present, whose number exceeded 40,000.

"Instead some chose to insult Tunisia by insisting that the person who threw the banana is Tunisian in the absence of any evidence proving their identity, especially with Brazilian and other foreign countries fans present."

However, the FTF criticised those spectators who had booed the Brazilian national anthem, while failing to mention the use of lasers aimed at several Brazil players as well as the referee.

"We call on Tunisian fans not to conform with the phenomenon that exists in many stadiums in the world, which represents whistling the national anthem of competing teams," the statement continued.

"We hope that Tunisian fans will always be exceptional and perfectly-behaved, especially when we are on the verge of the World Cup."

At the forthcoming finals in Qatar, Tunisia will meet Denmark, Australia and defending champions France in Group D.

Earlier, a leading fan group in Tunisia had taken a different stance, criticising the behaviour of some of the team's supporters in Paris.

In a social media post, the 'National Tunisian Team' group labelled the actions as "lousy and offensive" while calling the individual who threw the banana "ignorant and uncivilised".

Brazil's football federation has already spoken out against the incident, which world governing body Fifa is investigating.

"The Brazilian federation has expressed its dissatisfaction and anger against this 'individual' racist behaviour, which has unfortunately tarnished all Tunisian fans," the group said. external-link

Richarlison's Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur have said they are "disgusted" by the behaviour.

The match was supposed to be a prestige encounter for Tunisia, with captain Wabhi Khazri telling BBC Sport Africa before the friendly that he was expecting a 'great party'.

The game proved anything but however, with the supporters' regrettable actions coming on top of a heavy thrashing after Tunisia were reduced to ten men in the first half.

"Tunisian football sinks deeper," local sports reporter Souhail Khmira told BBC Sport Africa.

"Violence is no stranger to Tunisian stadiums unfortunately, nor is hostility. The use of lasers and whistling during national anthems are unfortunately common, but throwing bananas at opponents is a new low - whether an intentional racist action or not."

On the pitch

Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri has said his Tunisia side will learn from the defeat against Brazil, who he believes are on an equal footing to France, who the Carthage Eagles meet in Qatar in November.

"We know that France is of the same quality as Brazil so it is for us to correct the mistakes and find solutions," said Kadri.

"The main point of the match was to learn. You need to manage difficult moments in a match. We played against an opponent that forced us to make mistakes. You can't leave any space, you have to be completely focused."

"We tried to press after the 2-1, but unfortunately we conceded a third goal and a red card, which made the match very difficult.

"In the second half, even though we were reduced to ten men, we tried to play at enough of a respectable level and to control possession at certain moments.

"You need to retain lessons from these kinds of matches. At this high level, you can't make mistakes."

Tunisia fans celebrate their goal against BrazilTunisia fans, who were out in number in the Stade de France, celebrate their goal against Brazil

Tunisia will also meet Denmark and Australia in Group D, prior to their final clash with the defending champions, who lost 2-0 against the Danes in the Nations League on Sunday.

"With the absences and the difficulties in recent times, it's not easy for the French team - it is understandable," said Kadri.

"We all know France will be at their best level as soon as they have their key players. The team remains a favourite to win the World Cup for a second consecutive time.'

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